Lords of Hellas

Van Ryder Games has announced that they will be partnering with Awaken Games Lite to bring English versions of their games to retail around the world. Awaken Realms has already greatly impacted the board game world with highly thematic, miniatures heavy hits such as Lords of Hellas, and the recent Kickstarter explosion, Tainted Grail: Fall of Avalon. Awaken Realms Lite is a subsidiary, specializing in games with “fewer components and lower price points than the parent company.” The first games planned for English translations by Van Ryder Games will be Siege Storm: SiegeMode and Bees: The Secret Kingdom.

Siege Storm: SiegeMode by designers Kamil ‘Sanex’ Cieśla and Marcin Świerkot is a competitive battle card game in a fantasy world, meant to be “a game that feels like a CCG, but that is more accessible and doesn’t have the ‘Pay to Win’ aspects of the CCG model.” A successful 2018 Kickstarter project, this game has distilled a head to head card game to its very essence, with only one card type, simple and intuitive play, and combos galore. Each card can be used 3 ways: it can be sacrificed for mana, the card action can be used, or the card can be deployed onto a track for future use. SiegeMode supports 1v1, team play, or co-op/solo play with a specialized AI deck. Awaken Realms Lite also has support for organized play, and plans for future expansions.

Bees: The Secret Kingdom by Kamil ‘Sanex’ Cieśla is a beautiful, family weight card game “light on rules but featur[ing] interactive gameplay suitable for just about anyone.” In Bees, 2-6 players choose between generating honey and playing a flower card to collect pollen. Playing cards for resources allows all players to collect, however the active player gains the biggest benefit. Bees has 2 different play modes, one for families and small children, and one for more competitive play. Van Ryder Games president A. J. Porfirio quipped “Like a bee to the flower, customers will be attracted by the beauty of the game, but the sweet gameplay is what will keep them coming back.”

Seige Storm: SiegeMode and Bees: The Secret Kingdom are both expected to come to retail stores in the 2nd half of 2019.

Awaken Realms, makers of massively successful Kickstarter projects This War of Mine (2017) and Lords of Hellas (2018), have started a campaign for their new game, Tainted Grail: Fall of Avalon from designers Krzysztof Piskorski and Marcin Świerkot. Tainted Grail is a cooperative story driven adventure game which takes place in an alternate, dark Arthurian world, and features amazing art from Piotr Foksowicz. In Tainted Grail, 1-4 players work cooperatively, without turn order, to explore a growing map made of high quality tarot sized cards, in a manner reminiscent of the ground-breaking 7th Continent. These map cards can be flipped over as they are explored, or even replaced with changed versions of the land. Stories come from a printed book of more than 100,000 words, filled with choices, drama, characters and conflict. Each player chooses from one of 4 unlikely outcasts, each with unique stats and abilities which can improve over time, trying to avert the wyrdness from Avalon by healing the fading Menhir guardian statues. Each character comes with its own deck of combat cards and diplomacy cards, leading to a fascinating and unique conflict mechanism for both violent and non-violent interactions. Players lay down a chain of cards, linked by key symbols to first the threat, then to each other. A character can have as many cards in the combat as they like, as long as they are all linked, but if a card in the chain is lost, other cards may fall away. Characters use up energy to perform actions, exploring, fighting or negotiating their way through the campaign, chapter by chapter. Chapters can be playerd in a single session, and a robust system to save and store games is in the box.

Tainted Grail: Fall of Avalon Core Game comes with 8 miniatures, 4 boards, 576 standard cards (encounters, items, events, secrets), 100 small cards, 72 oversized cards (maps), 100+ tokens and markers and a 220 page story book, but the stretch goals and add-ons are growing by the moment, dwarfing these numbers. The Kickstarter Campaign for Tainted Grail is set to continue through December 28, and the game should deliver in August 2019. For more information, and a preliminary rule book, check out the Kickstarter web page here, or Awaken Realm’s web page here.

While the Green Horde continues to roam the countryside, gobbling up everything in it’s wake, lets see some other games on Kickstarter worthy of a second look.

First up is a game from Pandasaurus Games and Hisashi Hiyashi, designer of Yokohama and Trains, called Minerva.  Minerva is being called a brain burning tile laying game where the location of the tiles being placed has as much importance as the tiles themselves.  The reason for this is that each tile has an ability, but the abilities on the tiles aren’t triggered when they are placed in your tableau.  It isn’t until you put down a residence tile that they are triggered, and then it’s only the tiles in that row.  This is how you will gain resources, buy buildings, and eventually be able to purchase the temples to score big VP bonuses at the end.  Needless to say this game has a lot of tough decisions going as you determine how to build your tiled engine so that you can reap the most victory points.  Check out the Kickstarter today if this sounds like something you want to try.

Not enough Cthulhu in your life?  Do you think Carcassonne is too boring just building out a normal city?  Well Carcosa is here to answer the call and give you your cthulhu based Carcassonne game.  And as you can probably guess, this game plays much like the quintessential classic where you are drawing tiles and placing tiles, and then placing your cultists to claim majorities on different features.  Some differences come in the form of hidden information and the effects tiles can have when fully revealed.  On your turn you will place a tile you drew and looked at, but that tile will be face down, which for most tiles doesn’t change anything.  But, there are some tiles with a yellow mark on them, and these are the tiles which will have special effects when they are revealed, causing events like devouring several cultists on the board.  Plus with your cultists going mad and needing to recover whenever they score, you have a very different feeling game to normal Carcassonne.  Check out the Kickstarter today, and try to keep your sanity.

Next is a game which takes the Greek gods of old and gives them a high tech make-over for an interesting new take on territory control, called Lords of Hellas. Lords of Hellas’ look is very eye catching, taking mythological characters like Hercules, Helena, and the Minotaur and giving them a technology upgrade.  This also carries over into the huge monuments in the game of various Greek gods like Zeus, Hermes, and Athena, each standing nearly 5″ tall when fully built.  Gameplay for the game is territory control, but that alone would be boring, so changes and tweaks have been made to keep things fresh and new.  Multi-use cards give you tough choices in a game with few resources, do you play them to help in battle or for their resources?  Multiple end game conditions make it so that if you are losing on one front, you might still be able to win on another.  The heroes of each army also bring asymmetry to the game with different abilities and start conditions, plus you can upgrade your hero throughout the game making them even better.  Overall there are lots of things to like about this game, so check out their Kickstarter page to see everything it has to offer.

Finally we have something that is half game, half teaching tool called Turing Tumble, a name that plays on the famous Turing Test which tests for artificial intelligence.  The board is vertical with lots of pegs on it for the placement of different gears, flippers, switches, as well as launchers and catchers for two sets of colored marbles.  As you place the pieces on the board, you can get the board to sort or combine the colored marbles in predictable ways or do other functions.  It can even be taken as far as creating a calculator for doing math, making this board a mechanical computer that kids will have fun playing with.  The game aspect of the Turing Tumble comes from the included comic book which has you following the adventures Alia, a space engineer, as she tries to escape from a deserted planet.  The puzzles in the game start out easy and get harder as they go along, teaching your kinds the basics of computers and helping them build more complex sequences.  If this sounds as interesting to you as it does to me, head on over to their Kickstarter page.